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Harlan & Hollingsworth

Harlan & Hollingsworth Co., of Wilmington, DE, was the first firm in the United States to combine the shipyard and the foundry. Belts, Pusey, and Harlan, in 1836, began partnership with plant covering less than two acres. Mr. Pusey was a member of the firm, but soon retired. The firm was changed to Betts, Harlan & Hollingsworth in 1841, and to Harlan & Hollingsworth in 1849. In 1858 Mr. J. Taylor Gause, who had so long been connected therewith, became a partner, and later the head of this thriving and splendidly equipped iron shipyard By the admission of Mr. J. Taylor Gause, in 1858, to this title was affixed "Company," and in 1867 was incorporated a company under the title of The Harlan & Hollingsworth Company.

The iron- and steel-ship building industry was established at Wilmington, on the Delaware, at an early date. The city was practically as near to cheap coal and iron as though it were planted upon the Schulkill, and the same freight rates governed deliveries there from all parts of the country as at Philadelphia; in fact, iron-ship yards could be located advantageously anywhere upon the western bank of the Delaware for a distance of 'J0 miles so far as cheap materials are concerned.

The two yards in Wilmington devoted to this industry in the 1870s were those of The Haran & Hollingsworth Company and The Pusey & Jones Company. Both concerns built railway cars, but both had extensive ship-building plant, and by 1880 ranked among the four leading establishments in the United States devoted to the industry.

The Harlan & Hollingsworth Company began business in 1836 and built the first iron coasting steamer constructed in the United States. In 1843 they turned their attention to the needs of the merchant marine, and after having turned out two small iron vessels began the construction of the steamer Bangor, which was completed and launched in the following spring, and was, as stated, the pioneer of the great fleet of American-built iron steamers that sprang into existence over the next forty years to take the place of the old-time heavy wooden coasting craft.

The first outside line of steam vessels from New York to Philadelphia, Pa., were the "Ocean" and the "Ashland," built by the Harlan & Hollingsworth Co., in 1844, two iron-hull propellers, 98'x23'x9'4, fitted with twin-screws and "Grasshopper" engines, for Geo. W. Aspinwall, of Philadelphia, Pa. These vessels were similar to the early iron-hull propellers built for the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The success of the Bangor brought Wilmington at once into active competition with New York as well as with the eastern wooden-ship yards in the construction of the large number of iron steamers which the coasting and inland trades began to demand. Wilmington had skilled labor and cheap materials, and a low scale of wages prevailed, because operatives could afford to accept them on account of cheap rents and moderate living expenses.

In the early years of the struggle to establish an American iron-ship building industry The Harlan & Hollingsworth Company stood practically alone, for there were then few, if any, concerns in the country sufficiently well equipped to execute contracts regularly for the large class of iron vessels. The success of their yard was due to the fact that each vessel produced was built with as much care in design and construction as though it were being made by an owner for himself, and the behavior of the vessels afterward was, in consequence, a standing advertisement of the good qualities both of iron ships and American work.

The building of iron hull vessels in the United States up to 1850, outside of those built for experiments, consisted of 21 steam vessels for inland waters of 175 feet in length and less, two naval vessels, eight steam revenue cutters of an average length of 160 feet, one coastwise propeller 120 feet long, and two fine river passenger steamboats of about 240 feet in length. There were at this period but three iron shipbuilding yards in this country, Harlan & Hollingsworth Company at Wilmington, DE; Reanie Neafie & Co., at Philadelphia, PA, and Pusey & Jones Company, Wilmington, DE, besides Robert L. Stevens' works at Hoboken, NJ.

In 1852, the "Richard Stockton" was built by the Harlan & Hollingworth Co., and was one of the early iron-hull river steamboats of large size. She had a beam engine 48"x12'. After running for a time on the Delaware end of the line was brought around to run to Amboy, being the property of the Canulen and Amboy R. R. Company. This vessel ran for many years, and was one of more than average high speed. Her paddle wheels were of iron, with iron buckets about 13 feet long. About 1875 the vessel was placed in the excursion business, for the passenger line to Amboy had now been withdrawn.

By 1880 the yard had received many orders, and it was busily engaged from the first in building iron vessels of every description, its product being the most varied of that of any American establishment. The concern covered 43 acres of ground, on which there were about fifty different shops and buildings. Those employed in ship work were supplied with machinery modern in type and massive in build. The plant included, among other things, shears for trimming heavy plates, planers, rolls for bending plates to the proper curvature on the sides of the ship, machines for punching rivet holes in frames and plates, hydraulic riveting apparatus, by means of which rivets can be clinched solidly with one thrust by steam-power, frame-heating furnaces, bed-plates for bending the angle-iron frames to the proper outline, steam-hammers, mold-lofts and pattern shops, and the proper apparatus for constructing engines and boilers. On the wharf there was a set of masting shears that can handle a weight of 100 tons, and engines and boilers are lifted almost bodily into the air and deposited gently in their places in the hulls floating alongside.

The secret of the success of iron-ship building in America is, in large part, the use of labor-saving machinery of this description. By 1880 the water-front was 1,350 feet long, and the yard had a large dry-dock. About 3,000 men can be employed by this establishment. As in the case of the other iron-ship yards with large plant, this constituted a valuable resource of public importance to the United States; and it is safe to say that if the four large yards on the Delaware did not exist the government would be compelled to maintain several establishments of similar magnitnde for naval purposes, with their consequent great expense for the repairs uecessary to keep them in order.

The Harlan & Hollingsworth Company was building vessels of steel in response to the demand for the employment of that material. One iron sailing vessel, the bark Iron Age, built at this yard, was finished in 1869, and had the following dimensions: Length, 142 feet; beam, 30 feet; depth, 18 feet. During the war there were constructed the following vessels for the government : The iron-clad double-turreted monitor Amphitrite, the iron sloop-of-war Ranger, and the iron-clad monitors Patapsco, Sangus, and Napa. Charles Morgan, of New York, was one of the first merchants to understand the advantage of iron hulls in the coasting trade, and up to 1882 this yard had built for his coasting lines no fewer than 31 iron steamers. Propellers of the largest and finest class have been the favorite product of the yard, but orders have also been taken for steam craft of almost every description.

By the year 1883 Harlan & Hollingsworth had a plant covering forty three acres, and a record of over two hundred iron ships, built since 1836. Harlan & Hollingsworth Co. had a Dry Dock, of Simpson's patent, capable of taking in a vessel of 340 feet in length. Every Industry, from miner and workman to architect and engineer, was herein employed - concentrating nearly fifty trades - and had developed from an area of about two acres of ground to a frontage of 2,800 feet, on both banks of the Delaware.

The pioneer developers of iron shipbuilding in the United States were Mr. Cramp, Mr. Harlan, Mr. Roach, and Mr. Reany. The iron tonnage built in the yards of these three largest American shipbuilders by 1883 was as follows :

The Harlan & Hollingsworth Company 	64,696 
William Cramp & Sons 		64,397 
John Roach & Son 			146,693 
Grand total 			275,586 

The Bethlehem Steel Corporation was formed under the laws of New Jersey, December 10, 1904, as successor to the United States Shipbuilding Co. The last named company, which was formed under the laws of New Jersey, June 17, 1902, acquired all the stock of the Bethlehem Steel Co., South Bethlehem, Pa., and also acquired the following properties : Samuel L. Moore & Sons Co., Elizabethport, Eastern ShipbuildingCo., New London, Conn. N. J. Canda Manufacturing Co., Carteret, N. J. Crescent Shipyard Co., Elizabethport, N. J. Union Iron Works, San Francisco. Harlan & Hollingsworth Co., Wilmington, Del.

In November, 1917, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, which had gone largely into the shipbuilding business through the purchase of the Fore River shipyard at Quincy, Mass., the Harlan & Hollingsworth yard at Wilmington, Del, the Maryland Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.-s plant at Baltimore, and a plant at San Francisco, arranged to consolidate its shipyards under one management so that they might eliminate all duplicate engineering and overhead work, and adopt standardization of design and centralization of labor so far as possible, thus permitting the greater proportion of its energy to go into the actual building of ships.

By 1918 the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation had operations at the Fore River Shipbuilding Corporation at Quincy, Mass.; the old Samuel Moore & Sons, now the Moore plant, located at Elizabethport, N. J. ; the old Harlan & Hollingsworth Co., now the Harlan plant, located at Wilmington, Del. ; the Sparrows Point plant, that used to be the Maryland Steel Co., located at Sparrows Point. Md. : and the old Union Iron Works Co., now the Union Plant, located at San Francisco. Cal. Bethlehem had been free from strikes in some of the yards, and in some of the yards had had a great deal of trouble. Fore Riverr had only been closed on account of strikes for six days in 1918. The Moore plant, at Elizabethport, was closed four months during the summer and fall of 1917. Harlan, at Wilmington, was closed for many months, and the effects of the strike hang on for a long time -- they lost six months in 1917 on account of strikes.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:49:11 ZULU